Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The End

I've covered many business closings over the years, and it's always sad.

Marian Community Hospital closed last night.  As I looked at the building yesterday, before my noon live shot, I thought of all the people born here, all the people who got well here, and all those who entered another life here.  If those walls could talk...

So, you then have to start wondering "why."  Health care is a business, just like anything else.  The owner said the financial numbers no longer worked.  The flow of red ink had to stop.  There was no other option.

Before I drove up here, I looked at another set of numbers-- Carbondale's population.  The number I found:  9,100.  It was a lot less than I thought.  I guessed low teens.  A small city can't support a hospital, not in this day and age.

A security guard ordered a photographer and I off the property yesterday.  I'm not sure if he was trying to protect the employees, or was carrying out an order to protect the company's reputation by keeping the media away.  I did manage to speak to an employee before we were asked to leave.  He said it was more than a building.  It was a bunch of good people, working together, to help others.  You can't put a price on that.  You also can't force a company to lose money.

There will always be a need for quality health care, so I hope the 230 full and part timers who worked at Marian have an easy time finding new jobs.

I also hope the people of the "up valley" can get the medical help they need, when they need it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Upon Further Review

As you are no doubt well aware, there's a controversy surrounding the TV show "Restaurant Impossible's" visit to a local eatery.  The broadcast showed an absolutely filthy kitchen, food storage area, and refrigerator.  The owner of the restaurant claims the filth was exaggerated for TV purposes.

Be that as it may, I took time to watch the show again, a second time.  I wanted to know if I missed anything, and I wanted to see if I could detect the "exaggerated" claims of the restaurant's owner.

First of all, I admire the owner.  He knew he'd take a beating from "Restaurant Impossible" chef Robert Irvine, but he did it to save his parents' business.  If I had to suffer humiliation to help the folks, so be it.  Sign me up.  It's the least I could do.  I'd gladly be yelled at.

After watching the show a second time, I find myself a bit more sympathetic toward the owner.  It's mainly based on those opening "family" scenes and comments.

As for the filth, I'm sure the producers picked the worst video.  It was some awful stuff.  On top of that, both a waitress and the cook said the restaurant needed a cleaning-- badly.  There was a lot of crud, and it was clear it had accumulated over a period of time.  You can't fake that.  In addition, there were scenes with the owner and his mother talking about the run down condition of the restaurant and the dirt.

I can't believe the owner was so naive.  "Restaurant Impossible" has been on the air for a while.  He should have known what to expect.  Did he call other restaurants, that have already appeared, to get the skinny?

The "exaggeration" is turning out to be a difficult story to swallow.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Business News

Sears/KMart lost a ton of money in the last quarter.  More stores are closing.  None are in our area.  Both chains have image problems.  Sears stores in the Viewmont, Wyoming Valley and Columbia malls are nice, but they're not hip.  The real problem is KMart.  It has everything a discount store should have.  Unfortunately, most KMarts I've visited are tired and run down.  How much longer can the company bleed red ink?

The United States Postal Service has excess capacity and mounting losses.  It's closing processing centers around the country, including the one in Scranton.  My heart goes out to the people who are losing their jobs. I've been there.  It's not fun.  Times have changed, and the USPS has to adapt in order to survive.  Consolidation of mail processing centers makes sense.  I just hope its decision making process is sound.  The Scranton center gets good marks for efficiency.  You have to wonder why it is on the chopping block.  A center in Williamsport is also closing.

It's called "Pepsi Next."  It's a cola with half the calories of regular Pepsi.  Pepsi apparently believes it's creating a new market, but it seems like it will just suck buyers from the rest of the Pepsi family.

The gasoline fueled inflationary spiral is well underway.  That $1.28 two liter bottle of diet soda at the big box discount store is now $1.38.

This one is partly business related, because "The Big Bang Theory" continues to pull big ratings, first run and syndication...  The Sheldon character has gone from cute, quirky, and charming to being an unlikable loon.  By the way, "The Big Bang Theory" had move viewers than "American Idol" last week, marking the first time in years that the singing competition was beaten in the ratings.

There are now 13 varieties of Cheerios.

Montrose Publishing closed last week-- another printer done in by the internet and e-readers.  It's sad, but like the changes at the post office, the business world is evolving and those old models no longer work.

Some of those new Heinz ketchup packets are beginning to appear in fast food restaurants.  If you attack the packet from one end, you can squeeze out the ketchup.  If you open it from the other side, you can use it as a dipping container.  I've always been a dipper, and it's "thumbs up" to the new packets.  It's a product that does exactly as its billed.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bad Photography Sunday: The Miner

The coal miner statue inside McDade Park in Scranton is one of my favorites.  I found a light dusting of snow on his shoulders on a recent morning.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bad Photography Saturday: Scranton Winter

You know it's late winter in Scranton when there are new piles of mulch at the landscaper's, and they're covered in snow.

This is a shot from along Keyser Avenue, taken the morning of the 15th.  It won't be long before the snow is gone, and this mulch is in someone's yard.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Well, it finally aired.  The Food Network show "Restaurant Impossible" featured a local eatery.  In case you haven't seen it, noted chef Robert Irvine goes in to a failing restaurant.  It gets a two day make-over, with a budget limited to $10,000.

A big part of that ten grand was spent cleaning the kitchen, which was an absolute disaster.  The rest went to spruce up the dining room.

What is it about Italian restaurants?  The decor in most features maps and pictures of Italian landmarks, as if a plate of food covered in tomato sauce and cheese isn't enough to let you know you're dining on Italian fare.

And, I have another question.  Where is the health department?  It was clear the kitchen hadn't been cleaned in years.  There were violations everywhere you looked, and it wasn't just petty stuff.  Don't we do inspections any more?

Our friends down the street reported the restaurant passed inspection one year ago.  Clearly, something's wrong somewhere.

In a newspaper interview, the owner indicated some of what was shown wasn't real.  I know "Restaurant Impossible" is a reality TV show and not a documentary.  Still, how do you fake years of built up grease and filth?

If the producers came in to my business, lied, and tried to show I didn't care about the health and safety of my customers, I would have called the police, had them escort Irvine & Company to the door and told them to sue me.

I should point that another "Restaurant Impossible" subject also complained the producers come in with a script and they stick to it.  He too complained of inaccuracies.

At the end of the episode, the restaurant owners learned the evil of their ways, and I take them at their word.  However, I can't help but wonder about a repeat of the behavior that got them in to trouble in he first place.

I also wonder if they regret asking "Restaurant Impossible" for help.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gus Fuss

The Pennsylvania Lottery is dropping the Gus the Groundhog commercials, and I don't get the weeping and wailing.

The concept was cute, but I thought the execution was poor.  The puppet was creepy and the commercials had a cheap look and feel.  A junior high kid, with a Commodore 64 could have done a better job, and for a lot less money.

Let's hope they come up with something better, but knowing the state's track record, I don't have a great deal of optimism.

Gus the Groundhog was eight years old.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Shelf Life

Every structure has a shelf life-- a point when it's time to move on.  If they can tear down Yankee Stadium, they can tear down anything.

There's talk of closing Meyers High School in south Wilkes-Barre.  As you can see from the photo above, it's a spectacular old building.  The superintendent says it needs a lot of work, and the school district is already running at a deficit.  It might be better to close the school.  They're not sure if the 900 students will be split among the city's other two high schools, or if a new school will be constructed.

The school board says it's not close to making a decision.

There's an emotional move to save Meyers, and I can understand that.  There's a lot of history here.  It'll be tough to move on.  Still, certain realities must be faced.  Property owners/tax payers are already stressed.

On the other hand, if the students are happy and safe here, if the faculty is interested and motivated, and if test scores are good, it'll be tough to make a case for closing Meyers.  You can't put a price tag on that stuff.
And then, there is the ongoing Hotel Sterling saga in Wilkes-Barre.  The county council talked about it again last night.  I never thought the Sterling was a particularly striking building from the outside.  The true beauty was on the inside, and the inside is shot.  I've seen the pictures.

You can do anything if you have the money, and it will be tough to come up with all the money needed to save the Sterling.  There's a move to button it up, weather tight, until the restoration money is available, but it might be a long, long wait.

Tough decisions lie ahead in Wilkes-Barre.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Library

I have a soft spot for libraries.  I was thinking for the reasons while I was on my way home yesterday.  It came down to a couple reasons.  First, I love books.  Second, my high school had a horrible library, and my home town didn't have one.  Thankfully, I lived within walking distance of a Penn State satellite campus, so I did lot of my school work there.

I spent a good part of my Monday at the West Pittston Library.  It was the day the building, damaged in the September flood, reopened.  It's not a huge building, but it has everything you need, and its very nice inside.  The people in West Pittston are lucky, and I'm tickled to see the community supports the library.

Libraries have been having a rough time in recent years.  Less and less money is coming from government.  I can understand that.  Taxes are already high.  Government has to provide essential services.  Knowledge is essential, but you also have to care for the very young, the very old and keep the streets safe.

If your community has a nice library, please take the time to appreciate it.

Monday, February 20, 2012


I decided to wait a bit before openng my yap on the death of Whitney Houston.

Her music wasn't my thing, but I didn't find it objectionable.  I respected her popularity, along with all the record sales and awards.  It really was impressive.

Whitney Houston's death makes me angry more than sad.  Clearly, the woman had problems.  Big problems.  Drug and alcohol problems.  Problems that can't be solved overnight, and even with trips to rehab.

I can't help but think there were a lot of people along the way who could have stepped in to get Houston back on the right path.  She was only 48, and her death is such a waste of talent.

Former Scranton Police Chief Jim Klee died last week at the age of 73.  Klee was a good, old fashioned cop, and he was a joy to deal with.  He wouldn't tell reporters everything, but he gave you enough to report a story accurately.  Klee knew what media relations were all about, and he never ducked you-- in good times and bad. He is missed.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bad Photography Sunday: The Park

One more from the Olyphant collection before we move on to other things...

This is the football field where the Olyphant Lions play their games.

Mid February is a strange time of the year.  The Super Bowl is history, and the pee wee season is long past.  Despite the lack of snow and ice on the ground, it's still too early for baseball, so this is what we get.  An empty field on a late winter afternoon.

The months seem to be rolling by lately, so it won't be long before this field sees some activity.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bad Photography Saturday: Oh, Come On!

I took this picture Wednesday morning, at McDade Park in Scranton, where, apparently, every day is a holiday.

Seriously, "the holidays" were over more than a month and a half ago.  I see they had time to place the names of the new county commissioners on a sign outside the park, but no one apparently had the time to take down the holiday banners on the light poles inside the park.

As you can see, there's a fresh slushy coating of snow on the grass, but it didn't stick to the pavement.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, February 17, 2012

That Time of Year

It is a day I love and loathe at the same time.

I spent a big chunk of my Wednesday afternoon in my accountant's office.  Yes, it was tax preparation day.

He's  great guy, and I always enjoy seeing him.  Unfortunately, my visits always end with me writing out a check to the government.  I'm trying to look on the bright side.  Paying money in taxes means you made money in income, and who can argue with that? 

I consider myself very lucky.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spirit of '76

I couldn't believe my eyes.  Only in Scranton.

Let me back up a moment.  A photographer and I were sent to Isaac Tripp Elementary Monday morning.  A woman, in traditional garb, was teaching the kids about life during the Civil War.  It would make a cute little story for our newscasts.

On our way to the school, I spotted this faded stop sign at the intersection of Dorothy Street and North Garfield Avenue.  Please, take special note of the "Ed Mitchell for Congress" bumper sticker stuck to the bottom of the sign.  I couldn't resist.  I asked the photographer to pull over so I could snap a picture.

If my Google search is correct, Mitchell ran against Joe McDade in 1976, making this bumper sticker 36 years old!  I don't know where Ed Mitchell purchased his bumper stickers that year, but he really got his money's worth.  It's weathered quite a bit.  The vinyl really held its color, and the adhesive kept the sticker here through heat waves, cold snaps, hurricanes and snow storms.  It's amazing.

Ed Mitchell is now a political consultant, based in the Wilkes-Barre area.  His 1976 campaign against incumbent Joe McDade was not successful.  His bumper sticker, however, was clearly a winner.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Running on E

I did a Newswatch 16 Special Assignment on e-readers, and it ran in yesterday's 5 PM broadcast.

They're fascinating little devices-- filled with information, books, newspapers, magazines and video.

Yet, I don't have one and I have no burning desire to get one.  I tried to figure out why.  Then, it came to me.

I'm suffering from "tech fatigue."  I have too many appliances, cords, adapters, cables, chargers, addresses, numbers, passwords, accounts...

I wish someone wound invent one machine that does it all.  It appears the smart phone comes the closest.  I used to have one.  I found it too big to be truly portable and too small to be really useful.  I abandoned it in favor of my old flip phone.

An e-reader is in my future.  I'll be buying one sooner rather than later.  The prices have come down, and more content is available than ever before.  I read way too much to be without one.

Still, I can do without the added clutter.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

I hate Valentine's Day, and let me tell you why.

It's not because it's an overly expensive, made up, Hallmark holiday.

It's because too many people complain about it.  Rather than be thankful there is someone special in their life, they whine about the cost of chocolates, roses, and a nice dinner.  It drives me insane.

I will admit the holiday has gotten a bit out of hand, but never lose sight of the sentiment behind the day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

To Tell the Truth

I have a love/hate relationship with the web site LinkedIn.  In case you're not familiar with it, it's sort of a FaceBook for business types.  I find it mostly useless, but I have located an e-mail address or two through it.

My LinkedIn pendulum took a wild swing in the "negative" direction recently.

I won't name the person, or the place of employment, but I encountered a massive piece of fiction under in someone's resume posted on LinkedIn.  It far outstated this person's accomplishments.  It's even beyond that.  It's a lie.

Resume padding is a fact of life.  Just about everyone has done it at one time or another.  You don't have to place your hand on a bible while you're updating your LinkedIn profile.  However, at the very least, you should be honest.  That stuff catches up with you, and it will eventually bite you on the behind.

A former co-worker, not the person who is the subject of today's blog, recently asked for a reference, and I was thrilled to provide it.  It's someone who's worked very hard, and someone who deserves to get ahead.

When it comes to references, I've adopted the policy of my high school senior year English teacher, the great Stanley Evans.  He would give a good reference, or he would decline.  Evans wouldn't torch you.  However, in the case of my resume padding friend, I'd be tempted to go nuclear.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bad Photography Sunday: The River

This is an amazing picture.

On the surface, it appears to be just a picture of the Lackawanna River at Olyphant, looking downstream.

Here's what makes it amazing.  I took this photo Thursday afternoon, at the tail end of the "dead of winter."  There's a light dusting of snow on the bank, but there is zero ice in the river.  There have been some winters when the Lackawanna has frozen over.  In most, there's at least some ice jutting out from along the shore.

Not this year, and that's amazing.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bad Photography Saturday: The Gun

I've always had mixed feelings about the Lackawanna County borough of Olyphant.

It seems like there's a bar and a church on every corner, and how could you not like that?

On the the hand, I did go to school here-- 6th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grades, in some of the most decrepit schools that students were ever forced to enter.  In fact, one of the buildings was condemned, while it was still in use.  State inspectors determined it was a fire trap.  It was closed before it could burn down, or fall down.

The gun you see above now calls a park in "the flats" section home.  If memory serves, it used to be displayed outside the aforementioned condemned school.  The gun was moved to the park when the school was torn down.

We're going back quite a while here.  This gun wasn't one of the recent wave of tanks and guns given to local towns.  I remember it from the early 70's, and I'm sure it was here long before then.

Unfortunately, there's no plaque explaining what it is and where it came from.

It's nice to preserve history, but it would be even nicer if someone took the time to document some of the treasures in a small town.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Little Things

I still get a kick when I get immense enjoyment out of the simple and little things in life.

For example, there are six traffic lights between my home and WNEP.  Last Saturday night, I went six for six-- all green!  It must have happened before, although I don't remember it.  It made my day.

My cable system recently added another one of those classic TV networks, so it gave me the opportunity to watch "Get Smart" once again.  I grew up loving this show.  It was on NBC, then CBS in prime time.  After that, WPIX used to show the reruns in the afternoon.

I hadn't seen it in years, and what a joy it was to watch the comedic genius of Don Adams."Get Smart" had it all-- from clever and witty to silly and slapstick.

I still make reference to the "Cone of Silence" when government officials clam up on important issues.

Then, there is the closing credit sequence-- when all those doors leading to the Control headquarters slam shut.  You knew Max was going to get his nose whacked in the last set of doors, but you watched until the end every week, and you always laughed.

I'm thrilled to see "Get Smart" again.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


You might have noticed our newsroom looks a little different these days.

Some of the old, original grey is gone, replaced by bright blue.  We're not done yet.

It was time for a change.  Things needed a bit of a freshening.  I've seen computer generated photos of the redesign.  It's nice, and I'm sure you'll like it as well.

We've been on our new set for about a year, so it was the newsroom's turn for a spash of color.

I don't have a date for completion, other than it will be soon.

As always, thanks for watching.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


It is one of the most frequently asked questions:  Do you get along with people at the other station?

Yes...and no.

There are some I like, and some I don't.  I'm sure there are some who feel the same way about me.

This is a shot of Eric the reporter and Joe the photographer.  I took it last Monday morning in front of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Scranton.  It's payback.  Eric took a photo of me and he says he put it on his Facebook site.  I'm not a Facebooker, so I don't know if it actually made it.

Eric is one of the nice guys in the business, and an extremely hard worker.

The same goes for Joe the photographer.  We grew up in the same town.  We worked together in a previous life.

It is possible to be both friends and competitors.

I hope that answers your question.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rushing the Season

It took me back.  I was walking the beagle after work.  It was a sunny afternoon, and very mild for this time of year.  The wind made it feel a little chillier than it actually was.

I was a few blocks away from home when a flashback arrived.  It felt like one of those early spring afternoons, when we were kids, and when we couldn't wait to start wiffle ball games in the back yard.

Of course, it was too early in the year to play, but we did, anyway.  The yard was soggy and mushy.  We ended the afternoon with pants and sneakers all muddied up.  We also had sore fingers.  If you've ever caught a wiffle ball line drive on a cold day, you know what I mean.  It can sting.

It really wasn't wiffle ball weather, but you really lived for those first sunny and reasonably warm spring after school afternoons.  Of all the seasons, it really seems like spring takes the longest to arrive.  That's because it follows a long, dark, and cold winter.

A little mud and a sore hand was a small price to pay for a lot of fun.

Monday, February 6, 2012


We have both the happy and the sad today.  I'll begin with the sad.

Don Cornelius, creator and host of Soul Train took his own life last week.  I have a soft spot for underappreciated individuals, and I think Cornelius is on the list.

Soul Train went on the air in 1971.  It was essentially American Bandstand for black kids.  Today, it might not seem like such a big deal, but remember the time.  Cornelius showed the country that there was some good music out there that wasn't getting its due.  More importantly, Cornelius showed a country, fresh off the problems of the 60's, that black kids were nothing to fear.  Don Cornelius made such a positive contribution to black-- and American culture.  He was 75.

On a much happier note, David Letterman last week celebrated 30 years in late night.  His 12:30 AM NBC show went on the air in February of 1982.  I loved Letterman's short lived morning show, so I was thrilled when NBC gave him another opportunity.

I still marvel at this.  Remember when the local NBC station took Letterman off the air for several months in 1983 for "Thicke of the Night?"  What were they thinking?

Letterman has changed a lot over the years, maturing as a comedian and as a broadcaster.  There are some nights it seems like Dave doesn't want to be there, and the "cranky old man" act can wear thin at times, but Letterman is still the best act in late night television.  He can puncture pomposity better than anyone.

By the way, I predicted the Patriots would win the Super Bowl in a squeaker.  It was actually the other way around, and I couldn't be happier.   While I don't love the New York Giants, they are still better than the cheating Patriots.  I slept through the game, as is my tradition.  I'll find highlights, somewhere, today.

And, one other thing...  All the network morning shows, and I assume the cable shows, did segments on Super Bowl commercials.  I realize advertising is big business.  But, isn't there something more important to talk about?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bad Photography Sunday: The Square

I've ranted about Lackawanna County Courthouse Square in Scranton in the past.  It's a soul-less sea of concrete and granite, with a wall that's the wrong color, the wrong size, and inappropriate for the site.

I had a chance to look at it more closely on Monday, while I was waiting for Bob Cordaro and AJ Munchak to be sentenced.  I tried to like the square.  I really did.  I tried hard.

After a couple hours of severe contemplation, I've decided that Courthouse Square is a soul-less sea of concrete and granite, with a wall that's the wrong color, the wrong size, and inappropriate for the site.

The building in and of itself is lovely from the outside.  Demolishing the hideous annex was a good thing.  Inside, it has all the charm of a state prison.

You know how I feel about the environs.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bad Photography Saturday: The Bridge

A friend and I recently entered into a discussion of all the railroad bridges in our area, especially Scranton, the mid valley, and Carbondale.

All have a similar design, and all were built around the same time.  Yet, each is a little different.

Today's offering is the railroad bridge over the Lackawanna River, near Amelia Avenue, in Scranton's plot section.

Unfortunately, I took the shot on a cloudy morning.  I can see potential header material here, if I ever get a chance to blow off a few photos on a sunny day.

Friday, February 3, 2012

# 46

It is tradition for me to make a Super Bowl pick here, and it is tradition for me to get it wrong.

Undaunted, here is the 2012 version.

It's tough to bet against the New England Patriots, but I'll take the New York Giants and the three points.

I'm not a Patriots fan, even though I like Tom Brady.  He simply wins games without being a loudmouthed horse's arse.

Coach Bill Belichick is a different story.  He's been caught cheating.  He's arrogant, and I don't like him.

It's tough to get a case of the warm fuzzies over the New York Giants.  I sort of like coach Tom Coughlin, the gruff old uncle type.  Eli Manning has matured.  The Giants seem to be peaking at the right time.

I think the Patriots win in in a squeaker, and that's why I'm taking the Giants and the points.

It's a moot point for me.  I won't have real money on the game, and I won't be watching.  I haven't seen a Super Bowl in years.  It's past my bed time.

On top of that, it's NBC's turn to broadcast the game, and I really don't like the way NBC does things.

Regardless of the broadcaster, the pre game show is too long and half time is an eternity.  Madonna?  I'll pass.

And while I'm at it, spare me a discussion of the commercials.  They might be cute, but they're still commercials.  I really don't care what Coke and Chevrolet are doing.

I was treated to one of those horrible Super Bowl radio discussions yesterday.  The topic was whether Monday should be a national holiday because so many people skip work.  It's like this.  Ratings went up when the game was moved to the evening.  The Super Bowl will never be moved to Saturday because the host city would miss out on a full day of hotel and restaurant revenue.  The Super Bowl will always be Sunday evening because that's what works.  The solution to the Monday work problem is simple.  Cut back on the beer, or watch something else and go to sleep at a reasonable time.  It's only a game.

By the way, I couldn't change the radio station.  I was part of a captive audience in a sandwich shop at the time.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Today is Groundhog Day, the official half way point of winter.

You can feel it.  They days are getting longer.  The sun is getting stronger.  Average daily highs and lows are inching upward.  Spring isn't far away.  Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in a couple weeks.  Better days lie ahead.

The way I look at it, the three coldest months of the year are December, January and February-- so the real half way point arrived a couple weeks ago.  December is a breeze because the holidays occupy your thoughts and activities.  February is the front door of spring.  January is the tough nut to crack, a long, dark cold month.  Guess what?  It's over!

Having said all of that, some of our nastiest snowstorms have taken place in February and March.  At least with the stronger sun, the snow doesn't stick around.

Enjoy the last weeks of winter, and let's hope for an early spring.

I have a feeling that the rest of winter won't be so bad.  I've noticed an increase in skunk activity this week.  Loyal blog readers know that I see the skunk, and not the robin, as the official critter of spring.  Skunks get hungry for food and love in the spring.  The unmistakable aroma in the neighborhood is proof the skunks are out early this year.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

About the Cover

It's a first.  In the long history of monthly changing blog headers, I think this is the first night shot.  It's the bust of Abraham Lincoln, in front of the Scranton Club on North Washington Avenue.

February is home to Lincoln's birthday and Presidents Day, so I thought it was appropriate.  The red font?  Two reasons.  The white didn't look good against the background and Valentine's Day is coming up.